http://www.cleanenergy.org/2009/01/08/use-renewable-fuels-wisely/

SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Use Renewable Fuels, Wisely

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ceb_biodiesel_pump_atlanta_sideUsing renewable fuels is a great way to reduce air pollution, lessen our dependance on foreign oil, support local economies, and have cleaner vehicles on the road. There are several biofuels currently available to use in existing vehicles with little or no modifications required.

Biodiesel: Biodiesel is a renewable fuel than can be used as a substitute for fossil fuel derived diesel. Biodiesel is made by chemically combining vegetable or animal fat with an alcohol and potassium or sodium hydroxide.

Biodiesel can be used with currently existing diesel engines with little to no engine modifications needed and can be incorporated into existing storage tanks and fuel dispensers. However, because biodiesel is a solvent, when a tank is initially replaced with biodiesel, deposits that have accumulated on tank pipes and walls from petroleum diesel fuel may be released. The release of deposits may initially impact fuel filters and may require replacement. Though this should only occur when initially transitioning to biodiesel.

For public refueling stations in the Southeast, go to www.sealtfuels.org and click on “Regional Maps.”

Ethanol: Ethanol is a local, homegrown, biodegradable fuel made primarily from the starch of corn kernels. Ethanol is made by fermenting and distilling saccharides (sugars) and starches. Vehicles that run on ethanol are typically called flex fuel vehicles (FFVs) and can be operated with any blend of ethanol or pure gasoline. All auto manufacturers warranty their vehicles to operate on low blends of ethanol (10% (E10) or less).

For public refueling stations in the Southeast, go to www.sealtfuels.org and click on “Regional Maps.”

Clean Hydrogen: Clean Hydrogen or “Green Hydrogen” is hydrogen produced through clean, renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass, which have less harmful impacts on society.

There are five ways that clean hydrogen can be produced:

  1. Clean Electrolysis uses an electric current (produced from clean energy sources such as wind, biomass or geothermal) to split water into hydrogen at the cathode and oxygen at the anode.
  2. Solar Thermal Water Splitting uses sunlight to split methane gas into hydrogen and carbon.
  3. Photoelectrochemical production uses sunlight and catalysts to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
  4. Photobiological and Biological systems use sunlight and biological organisms to split water. (These processes are still being developed).
  5. Biomass Reforming can produce hydrogen through gasification or pyrolysis of biomass resources.

Fuel cells are the most common way to convert hydrogen into useful energy. Think of them as energy conversion devices. The fuel cell works similar to a battery, but the fuel cell never goes bad. When hydrogen is added to the fuel cell, electricity is generated and can be used to power cars. Several auto manufacturers are currently developing hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, with some available for leasing in select cities.